(Reuters) - Penn State leaders covered up assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse for years, disregarding the welfare of his young victims to save the reputation of the school, according to a report Thursday from former FBI director Louis Freeh.
Freeh's report blames former top university officials President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, late head football coach Joe Paterno and athletic director Tim Curley.
Here are some key quotes:
Freeh: "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."
Freeh: "In order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University - Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley - repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community and the public at large."
Freeh: "Bad publicity affects a panorama of different events including the brand of Penn State, including the university, including the reputation of coaches, including the ability to do fundraising. It's got huge implications."
Freeh said his investigation was strongly influenced by Paterno's reaction to graduate student Mike McQueary when told he saw Sandusky in a sexual position with a boy in the school showers in February 2001: "You did what you had to do. It is my job now to figure out what we want to do."
Freeh referred to the February 2001 victim, who authorities were never able to identity, in saying that Penn State officials "exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, about what McQueary saw."
Freeh said Paterno's firing was justified. "He was an integral part of this active decision to conceal."
Paterno family statement: "Sandusky was a great deceiver. He fooled everyone - law enforcement, his family, coaches, players, neighbors, University officials and everyone at Second Mile. ... If Joe Paterno had understood what Sandusky was, a fear of bad publicity would not have factored into his actions. ... Joe Paterno never interfered with any investigation. He immediately and accurately reported the incident he was told about in 2001."
Timothy Lewis, attorney for Spanier: "Not only did Dr. Spanier never conceal anything from law enforcement authorities, but prior to 2011 he was never contacted by law enforcement officials, or any other officials, about any criminal activities now attributed to Sandusky. And as he told Judge Freeh himself last Friday and has steadfastly maintained, at no time in his 16 years as president of Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of any incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or criminality of any nature."
Freeh said the four school officials knew Sandusky had been previously investigated in 1998 for child sex abuse in the showers but never confronted him when a similar accusation surfaced in 2001. "None of them even spoke to Sandusky about his conduct. In short, nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity."
Freeh also said he was struck that a janitor saw Sandusky rape a boy in the showers in November 2000 but declined to report the "horrific" assault to school officials for fear of losing his job, saying "the University will close ranks to protect the football program."
Thomas Kline, lawyer for Victim 5, who Sandusky was convicted of sexually assaulting in the football locker room showers in the late 1990s: "He paraded children around, like trophies. ... He was naked with children in the locker room. He was seen by the janitor, he was seen by an assistant coach, it was known by Coach Paterno, by Mr. Spanier, by Mr. Curley, by Mr. Schultz. The four men, Mr. Freeh told us, were literally the university powers, and they did nothing. It is a huge American tragedy, a tragedy that falls on our doorstep here in Pennsylvania."
Freeh: "Everyone has the duty to 'blow the whistle' on anyone who breaks this trust, no matter how powerful or prominent they may appear to be."
Freeh: "The Board - despite its duties of care and oversight of the University and its Officers - failed to create an environment which held the University's most senior leaders accountable to it."
Karen Peetz, chair of the Board of Trustees: "The Board of Trustees, as a group that has paramount accountability for overseeing and ensuring proper functioning and governance of the university, accepts full responsibility for the failures that occurred."
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett: "There are monsters among us. There are people who will hurt children for their own sexual gratification. And we do have to report, we do have to follow up. ... I know that unfortunately we are going to see conduct like that again because there are people who will do this again and again and again."
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; editing by Doina Chiacu and Todd Eastham)